Club des Hashischins
The Club des Hashischins (sometimes also spelled Club des Hashishins or Club des Hachichins, "Club of the Hashish-Eaters") was a Parisian group dedicated to the exploration of drug-induced experiences, notably with hashish. Members included Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Charles Baudelaire, Gérard de Nerval, and Honoré de Balzac.
Several drugs like hashish and opium were increasingly well known in Europe by the beginning of the nineteenth century. At that time, the use of these drugs was widespread among scientific and literary circles for purposes of recreation, though they were driven more by an aesthetic curiosity or the pretensions of a pseudo-science than a smoking lounge. In 1821, Thomas De Quincey's Confessions of an English Opium-Eater appeared, and was translated into French in 1828 by an anonymous author that signed as ADM, which turned out to be Alfred de Musset.
The club was active from about 1844 to 1849 and counted the literary and intellectual elite of Paris among its members, including Dr. Jacques-Joseph Moreau, Théophile Gautier, Charles Baudelaire, Gérard de Nerval, Eugène Delacroix and Alexandre Dumas. Monthly "séances" were held at the Hôtel de Lauzun (at that time Hôtel Pimodan) on the Île Saint-Louis.
Gautier wrote about the club in an article entitled "Le Club des Haschischins", published in the Revue des Deux Mondes in February 1846. The article described his first visit:
"One December evening, obeying a mysterious summons, drafted in enigmatic terms understood by affiliates but unintelligible for others, I arrived in a distant quarter, a sort of oasis of solitude in the middle of Paris that the river, surrounding it with its two arms, seems to defend against the encroachments of civilization. It was in an old house on the island of Saint-Louis, the Hotel Pimodan, built by Lauzun, that the bizarre club of which I was a member recently held its monthly sittings where I was to attend for the first time."
While he is often cited as the founder of the club, in the article Gautier says he was attending their séances for the first time that evening and made clear that others were sharing a familiar experience with him.
During this period Jacques-Joseph Moreau, who specialized in the sociological concept of social alienation, studied the effects of regularly consuming hashish. Moreau studied this product according to his travels between 1837 and 1840 in Egypt and Syria, and Asia Minor. Back in France, he continued to experiment on himself and published in 1845 a book entitled Hashish and mental alienation in which he establishes an equivalence between dream, hallucination and hashish delirium. This book is the first made by a scientist about a drug.
- Levinthal, C. F. (2012). Drugs, behavior, and modern society. (6th ed.). Boston: Pearson College Div.
- Michael Largo, Genius and Heroin: The Illustrated Catalogue of Creativity, Obsession, Google Books, p. 207, retrieved 2012-07-18
- "Romans et Contes de Théophile Gautier/Le Club des Haschischins - Wikisource". fr.wikisource.org. Retrieved 2016-11-18.
- Jacques-Joseph Moreau (1845), Du hachisch et de l'aliénation mentale, études psychologiques (in French), Paris, ISBN 3262001716, retrieved 2012-07-18